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What free writing do your 3rd-5th graders do?


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I'll say upfront, my ds has ASD2 and significant language issues. So even though he's 12, he's functioning more like maybe a 4th grader, which is why I'm asking about the range.

What writing does your dc who is age grade 3rd-5th do of their own free will, not assigned? I'm interested in even small snippets, because I have this assumption that free writing *grows* in length. But maybe I'm all wet?

Do they write:

-text messages?

-little notes

-creative stories?

-poems?

-emails?

-scrapbook posts?

-something longer? 

And does it tend to be by hand or tech? And has there been a progression of the development of their free writing? And as you consider your kids, do you think writing by choice (not for assignments) is *personality* or do you find it common to all your kids in some fashion barring disability? Was there something that launched their free writing? Like was it a developmental spurt or a contest or a newfound topic/genre that interested them?

Do your kids at this age have *pride* in their free writing, and if so why?

Edited by PeterPan
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I can share too. My dd wrote recipe cards about that age. They were very inventive, with completely made up dishes, and utterly her own idea, a leisure activity. I'm not sure how terribly legible they were, but they were written by hand and satisfactory to her. She had *pride* in her output but wasn't particularly driven to share. She collected them into a little recipe envelope she made of paper, so I guess she was modeling/mimicking my recipe card box.

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1 minute ago, madteaparty said:

Not much at all honestly. Usually lists of things or experiences 🤣

Tell me more about this! My ds has done some lists. We like lists here!!! What were they writing about the experiences? And this was by hand? A shared output or for their own pleasure?

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Just now, PeterPan said:

Tell me more about this! My ds has done some lists. We like lists here!!! What were they writing about the experiences? And this was by hand? A shared output or for their own pleasure?

She made a lists of movies she wants to watch with her dad. She makes lists of experiences she’s looking forward to(usually totally unrealistic).

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And I guess I should add ds has on occasion written lists of single words and a few times has made little valentines of briefly crafted notes.  ("love, name")

So literally, you cannot name unforced writing and have it be less, lol. 

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Just under that age, but my almost 3rd grader is allergic to pencils if required for school.  On his own, in the past two weeks he has written a list of birds he has seen in the yard with an ongoing tally.  At my request, he added some features for male/female, ostensibly so I or his siblings could identify the birds and add to his tally.  

He has made a bracket a la March Madness for his paper airplanes that he has made this year (he has a plane of the day calendar).  This took him three days, but he wrote the names of 64 planes and created the bracket.

He likes to draw tanks and military planes, so he usually writes a few specs for each one he draws.  Sometimes it's just a few words, sometimes it's a list of 4-5 facts.  This happens almost daily right now.

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1 minute ago, madteaparty said:

She made a lists of movies she wants to watch with her dad. She makes lists of experiences she’s looking forward to(usually totally unrealistic).

Oh, oh, ,I LOVE this!!!!!!! You're right, it taps into the creativity like what my dd was doing with her recipes, but it's briefer amounts. That is SO interesting. And you know, that's really FUNCTIONAL writing too. 

See that's what I'm grappling with, what does functional writing look like for someone who operates outside the realm of school writing. What would he own or want to write.

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1 minute ago, medawyn said:

Just under that age, but my almost 3rd grader is allergic to pencils if required for school.  On his own, in the past two weeks he has written a list of birds he has seen in the yard with an ongoing tally.  At my request, he added some features for male/female, ostensibly so I or his siblings could identify the birds and add to his tally.  

He has made a bracket a la March Madness for his paper airplanes that he has made this year (he has a plane of the day calendar).  This took him three days, but he wrote the names of 64 planes and created the bracket.

He likes to draw tanks and military planes, so he usually writes a few specs for each one he draws.  Sometimes it's just a few words, sometimes it's a list of 4-5 facts.  This happens almost daily right now.

I love these ideas SO much!! Thank you for sharing.

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1 minute ago, Lovinglife123 said:

My DS wrote a draft for a puppet skit.  He’s not a writer.  He wrote a silly poem recently, he started saying it out loud but I told him he should go write it down so we remember it.  He has written a few poems spontaneously.

These are great!!! You're right, ds has started making interesting little rhymes and lines. I hadn't even thought about that. They started after we did some auditory processing work. His brain figured out sounds and all of a sudden rhymes and puns meant something to him and started rolling off, lol. 

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Two writing-phobic / writing-hating DSs here.

NO, the only "free writing" done here was still required by mom; so it was "free" from being part of a program, but it was still writing required by mom, lol). NO writing was enjoyed here, and DSs never voluntarily wrote anything that I can recall in the K-8 grades, except for 

For "required free writing" (yes, an oxymoron, I know 😉 )
- lists worked well here, too -- the goofier the better, or things of high interest to them
- also the Peggy Kaye game of rolling a die and getting to write that many words to contribute to a jointly written story

In middle school, a homeschooling friend had her DS do short blog articles for writing (typing), on topics of interest to him, or opinions or observations, just like the blogs of adult bloggers. The blog had access limited to just friends/family to whom mom gave the password.

I forgot -- for a brief time, DSs made some comics with reoccurring characters that had speech bubbles and written words. Also, they liked writing lists for creating worlds that could be video games -- so lists of character types, lists of weapons, maps of worlds with names, etc.

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1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

NO, the only "free writing" done here was still required by mom; so it was "free" from being part of a program, but it was still writing required by mom, lol).

I love this, haha because that is so where we're at. But I'm cool with that. You may have seen my 180 Days thread, and they are going into ideas of engagement, choice, what is free vs. what is prescribed. But as you say, I think given the extent of ds' disabilities that being able to do some age typical things other dc do for pleasure, even with support, will be better than not doing them at all. I'm looking for REASONS for him to want to write. Like the jokes book, what a fun idea because he actually HAS  few of those now! And nuts, I'd be cool with either collected or self written. Even appreciating jokes would be something, lol. 

4 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

the Peggy Kaye game of rolling a die and getting to write that many words to contribute to a jointly written story

Oh my, how did I forget about Peggy Kaye?!?! You're right, her stuff we've done has always been genius. I don't know if I bought that one or had it from the library and had to return. I will go check. You're right some kind of composition with dice, pictures, etc. is on my to do list. I'm hoping it works well for him and have been collecting stuff. It was just kind of an ugly year. But I was viewing that as intervention (to work on story grammar, to work on grammar, etc. work stuff) and hadn't really thought of making it just PLEASURE.

6 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Also, they liked writing lists for creating worlds that could be video games -- so lists of character types, lists of weapons, maps of worlds with names, etc.

I could totally see my ds doing that, lol.

6 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

DSs made some comics with reoccurring characters that had speech bubbles and written words.

Did he draw them too? Interesting. Could be fun if we did that with turn taking and really simple to draw characters. It could be kind of imaginative. 

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24 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

... Did he draw them too? Interesting. Could be fun if we did that with turn taking and really simple to draw characters. It could be kind of imaginative. 

Yes, they each had a very short spurt of creating a comicstrip (inspired by Calvin & Hobbes), with stick figure characters they created and drew, and speech bubble dialogue, in a strip with several panels.


More possible ideas for you:

There are blank panel comic books like this one, this one, and this one.

And ones with drawings but blank speech bubbles to fill in yourself, like this one, this one,  this one, and this one.
And similarly, these interactive Creative Writing comic strips you complete the speech bubbles online and then download

And then, requiring more writing, is Comicstrip Writing Prompts, which has a comic at the top of the page, asks a related prompt question, and leaves blank lines for writing a response to the prompt question and the comic.

Edited by Lori D.
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9 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Yes, they each had a very short spurt of creating a comicstrip (inspired by Calvin & Hobbes), with stick figure characters they created and drew, and speech bubble dialogue, in a strip with several panels.


More possible ideas for you:

There are blank panel comic books like this one, this one, and this one.

And ones with drawings but blank speech bubbles to fill in yourself, like this one, this one,  this one, and this one.
And similarly, these interactive Creative Writing comic strips you complete the speech bubbles online and then download

And then, requiring more writing, is Comicstrip Writing Prompts, which has a comic at the top of the page, asks a related prompt question, and leaves blank lines for writing a response to the prompt question and the comic.

Oh I am such an idiot! You're right, I hadn't even thought to look at a place like scholastic for what is suggested for gr3-5 creatively. I was saying it and wasn't getting it, lol.

 

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I was going to say "absolutely nothing" for my 10yo 4th grader, but then you said text. He will text me things we're out of while I'm out, tell me how much school he's done, or ask if he can play on the ps4. He will text chat in games (Minecraft, Among Us, etc), in as few words as possible, often asking anyone around him for spelling help. Actual pencil to paper.... letters to Santa is all I can think of. 

Fwiw he's "ahead" in most areas and struggles with spelling and writing. It's not that he doesn't have anything to say. He's totally a "chatty Cathy" type. He's just had the strongest aversion to a pencil of any of my crew. His Build Your Library schedules copywork 3 times a week. He seriously checks it first thing to see how many lines today has. If it's not a small one he staggers a couple lines between his readings so he doesn't have to do it all at once, and he literally hisses like the cat when it's larger than usual. 🤷‍♀️😂 (I let him type for his actual writing lessons, which are still fairly small, but huge compared to what they'd be if I made him write it out.)

Edited by SilverMoon
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11 minutes ago, SilverMoon said:

...Fwiw he's "ahead" in most areas and struggles with spelling and writing. It's not that he doesn't have anything to say. He's totally a "chatty Cathy" type. He's just had the strongest aversion to a pencil of any of my crew. His Build Your Library schedules copywork 3 times a week... and he literally hisses like the cat when it's larger than usual. 🤷‍♀️😂 

😂 I so relate! 

In the early elementary grades, I had "required free writing" (LOL) of journal entries from a prompt about 3x/week in the early elementary grades. In 3rd grade, it was only 3 complete sentences. DS#2 who really struggled with writing managed to always construct 3-4 word sentences consisting of words that were only 3-5 letters long... The efforts and mental gymnastics he would go through to reduce his writing to bare minimum requirements... 😂

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My graduates were the kids that asked for blank paper and could fill volumes when they in middle/high school. Around 4th they would have written wishlists, Pokemon teams, recipe cards, menus for dinner or lunch... the Marine kept a journal sporadically. The eldest kept lists of story plot ideas. The Marine would have had pride in her writing in 4th. The other didn't really discover his writing voice until 5th-6th.  

Kiddo #3 is the classic "why write five paragraphs when I can sum it up in five syllables" kid. If he wrote much at all he kept it private, but he has filled reams with drawings and designing fonts. His writing being good enough to not need redone was his only goal at 4th. 

#4 would have whipped out paper for anything. Random fairy tale, food menus, names, copied fancy writing, tried to write pieces from memory, etc.  

#5 is 13yo now. She has a fancy leather journal she fills with "enderman" notes. It's a different alphabet from a Minecraft character. The pages could be her brother's full name or a random paragraph. They're just all in enderman. 

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5 minutes ago, SilverMoon said:

The eldest kept lists of story plot ideas.

What an interesting point!! You're right, stories don't all have to be fleshed out. We could literally just write story plots and make lists of story plots using our story grammar work. 

 

6 minutes ago, SilverMoon said:

The other didn't really discover his writing voice until 5th-6th.  

How did this happen or what drove it? Ds scripted when he would "write" stuff when was little. We have reams of stuff he "wrote" but it was scripting, repeating stuff he had heard in audiobooks. He's had tons of language stuff since then, but you're right I don't think he has found his VOICE as a writer. That's why I thought maybe meaningful pleasure writing would help him find his voice. 

31 minutes ago, SilverMoon said:

If it's not a small one he staggers a couple lines between his readings so he doesn't have to do it all at once, and he literally hisses like the cat when it's larger than usual.

That is a riot.

9 minutes ago, SilverMoon said:

#5 is 13yo now. She has a fancy leather journal she fills with "enderman" notes. It's a different alphabet from a Minecraft character. The pages could be her brother's full name or a random paragraph. They're just all in enderman. 

Oh that is so funny. It could even be fun pleasure writing, like make up jibberish (that we let Siri transcribe, haha) and then translate it. He's very into humor. I think connecting it to humor like this is a great way to make any writing have meaning for him and help him want to bring his voice to it.

11 minutes ago, SilverMoon said:

"why write five paragraphs when I can sum it up in five syllables" kid.

This sounds like a great task for my ds, lol. We could call it summarizing, but how much better to call it why write a who page when I could say it in 5 syllables, lol. Since working on syntactic complexity will be a goal for this coming year, tasks of say it in one sentence would actually be perfect. :biggrin:

 

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13 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

What an interesting point!! You're right, stories don't all have to be fleshed out. We could literally just write story plots and make lists of story plots using our story grammar work. 

How did this happen or what drove it? Ds scripted when he would "write" stuff when was little. We have reams of stuff he "wrote" but it was scripting, repeating stuff he had heard in audiobooks. He's had tons of language stuff since then, but you're right I don't think he has found his VOICE as a writer. That's why I thought maybe meaningful pleasure writing would help him find his voice. 

It was just that, a list of plots. What if these guys faced this type of villain in this setting. Some had fine details like specific weapons and others were just a sentence or two. He only actually wrote up a few of them but collecting the ideas was his joy. 🙂 Finding his voice... we were using Classical Writing then, which had them analyzing a fable, myth, fairy tale, etc, and then rewriting it. At a certain level it said they could start changing details in their final rewrite as long as they stayed true to the moral and skeleton of the original. At first his were really cheesy, like just replacing characters with cartoon characters, but it sparked something. As his rewrites improved he started getting irritated with the boundaries of the curriculum, which had him making his own on the side. It was a process. 

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My DS will be in 3rd next year. His free writing ebbs & flows. Sometimes he’ll get on a writing kick & write little notes to us. Other times it’s math quizzes. Once he wrote a list of “rules” for friends coming over to play in his bedroom 😂. He’ll make game cards & include basic instructions. Lately he’s been drawing mechs or super cars & writing out their stats / specs. 

Never anything as in-depth as stories. He loves writing for NaNoWriMo each year, has good writing stamina, enjoys poetics... but those things only happen during lessons. 

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My third grader has handwritten stories, instruction manuals, game stories (board games and role playing games), travel journals, letters to family members and authors, recipes, creative encyclopedia type books, lists of things he wants or books he's waiting to come out, daily journals for a few weeks or charts/progress reports of some goal he's working on.

He types stories in Minecraft journals, type chats via Zoom, and types posts on discussion boards for Outschool classes. A few times he's tried Word for stories but resorts to handwriting usually or considerably shortens the story so he's not typing as long.

I've always thought of him as an able but reluctant writer but now I see that's not true. I'm also a professional fiction author so it could be that I'm modeling behavior that he's picking up on.

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4 hours ago, SilverMoon said:

Finding his voice... we were using Classical Writing then, which had them analyzing a fable, myth, fairy tale, etc, and then rewriting it. At a certain level it said they could start changing details in their final rewrite as long as they stayed true to the moral and skeleton of the original. At first his were really cheesy, like just replacing characters with cartoon characters, but it sparked something. As his rewrites improved he started getting irritated with the boundaries of the curriculum, which had him making his own on the side. It was a process. 

You know I think that happened with my dd but happened so easily and naturally that I took it for granted and didn't notice. But you're right, that makes sense that the customizations in the retellings would be where their voice starts to come through. Thanks for sharing that! 

2 hours ago, Shoes+Ships+SealingWax said:

Once he wrote a list of “rules” for friends coming over to play in his bedroom 😂

Oh that's hilarious. Ds would so be into that, lol.

14 minutes ago, Sarah0000 said:

I've always thought of him as an able but reluctant writer but now I see that's not true.

Yeah, lol, you could say he's got it. :biggrin:

15 minutes ago, Sarah0000 said:

A few times he's tried Word for stories but resorts to handwriting usually or considerably shortens the story so he's not typing as long.

 

Yup, ds' articulation is finally to where he can use dictation software reliably, so that's next on the docket. That's a good point that as a novice typist, typing for shorter things and using dictation for longer will make sense. 

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Oh sorry forgot to answer your other questions.

There is definitely progression in his free writing. At around 8.5yo his creative stories introduced tension and buildup. They began to contain a better grasp of POV and perspective. They have more character emotion and growth. They still lack in setting though. 

While there are things that inspired individual writing projects there hasn't been anything that inspired writing interest overall. All three of my kids have written stories and things in some fashion since they could hold a pen.

My 3yo makes books in which he draws pictures and strings of letters or scribbles. Then he tells me the stories verbally, drawing in the necessary details as he goes along. These are this happened then this happened stories. 

My 6yo is really big into drawing and graphic novels. He usually writes/draws comic style books and his are more focused on characterization, emotion, and action sequences than overarching plots. He mimics and models characters and stories into new forms.

They all have pride in their writings. My 9yo seems to have pride in how he shows something, how he reveals information to the reader. My 6yo has pride in the shape, perspective, and emotion of his characters. My 3yo is just proud of making something and handling the stapler on his own, I think! 

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A little younger than you're looking for, but my autistic kiddo (1st grade) writes about things related to his special interests (video games). He makes up silly worksheets for DH or me to do, and they always have the game characters. He makes up math word problems involving the characters and items from the games. He writes lists of things he wants to do in the games (very helpful for managing expectations since his screen time is limited - you can check off this many things from your list today, and save the others for another day). Sometimes if he really needs to tell me stuff about the games but I can't listen right then, he will write down what he wanted to say, summarized in 1-3 sentences. 

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4 minutes ago, purpleowl said:

Sometimes if he really needs to tell me stuff about the games but I can't listen right then, he will write down what he wanted to say, summarized in 1-3 sentences. 

Whoa, this is such an interesting point. Ds has started having these narratives of stuff he wants to tell us and we're often busy (cooking, trying to get out of his room while tucking him in, etc.). So you're right that to him those funky narratives about gaming or whatever are actually really important and something he could write out. Now he'd use tts, but still that's such a good point that his language is to where he HAS things to say. I was just assuming it needed to be interesting to me, lol. 

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My 3rd/4th grade son: he's written a couple of short poems, lists of who he wants in his army along with their rank, labeled his maps, letter to a cousin.  Nothing too long.  The amount of writing does seem to be increasing lately.

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My current 3rd grader does a lot of writing on his own.  He loves writing short stories and has a series going on right now that he "publishes".  He also writes comics, magazine, brochures (for businesses he wants to start) and recipes.  Occasionally he will write letters to friends and family too.  We also get to view many skits he and his older brother write together...which typically ends up in them giggling the entire time.

I have not done any formal writing lessons with him, it's all be through freewriting and his own questions about how to improve.  He began before being able to write by drawing out stories and has definitely been progressing in skill and technique.  For my kids, I do think it's slightly personality/interest, a bit of something they all do together, but also just a result of their enjoyment of reading.  Most of my kids, even my non-reader/writer take great pride in what they've written and publish them.  Because of the enjoyment and progression in their writing, I haven't pushed more formal writing yet.  If I try to help without a request, it is taken as criticism.

Then I have my ASD ODS who is completely different.  He rarely writes on his own.  Maybe every once in awhile he will journal, but there is a lack of creativity.  When he does write, it is required or a list of books he wants to read.  For more formal writing, I allow him to dictate everything to me and I will write it for him (he types it up later).  

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On 4/1/2021 at 10:49 PM, My4arrows said:

Most of my kids, even my non-reader/writer take great pride in what they've written and publish them. 

I loved reading about all the types of writing your kids are doing!

On 4/1/2021 at 10:49 PM, My4arrows said:

Maybe every once in awhile he will journal, but there is a lack of creativity. 

That's an interesting observation. My ds is very creative in some ways, but he is not yet creative with *language*. It's an important distinction.

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Mine have story starters. We have used those Usborne and DK books for this. But I also have always given each of my children one by Scholastic that you can only find used now...which is fine, makes it cheap. I will need to go check the name of the book. What I should do, knowing that it is now out of print, is have one copy and then have them write the story starter on their own paper. But I already had the first four kids write in their own books so the last one will write in the last book. It is called "My Writing Book" by Joyce C. Bumgardner. It is this one... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0590417851/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sout?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sout-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0590417851&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

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